Monday, November 28, 2011

On Omitting Parenthetical Statements

Yesterday, I objected to Rabbi Sherer quoting me as having written that "When rabbinic authority is invested in yeshivah deans who are isolated from wider society, abuses of rabbinic power are inevitable." What I had actually written was that "When rabbinic authority is invested in yeshivah deans who are isolated from wider society, and often “handled” by various assistants, abuses of rabbinic power are inevitable."

However, I subsequently discovered that the version of my essay which appeared in The Jerusalem Post had been edited such that this phrase had been placed in parentheses. I still personally feel that Rabbi Sherer should have quoted it, as do others. But I can understand that still others feel that he was thereby entitled to omit it. And so I would like to retract my accusation that he deliberately set out to falsify my words. My words were falsely reported, but he is not necessarily culpable.

Of course, I expect him to likewise clarify that his error was due to my words having been altered by others, and that what I actually wrote in my unedited article was very different from what he quoted me as saying. And none of this relates to his other distortion of my words, in claiming that this is THE reason that I gave for being post-charedi, instead of the third reason.

Incidentally, several people wrote to me to tell me that even without the (parenthetical) phrase, my statement was absolutely true.

76 comments:

  1. roshei yeshivot are not the worst problem around. the people that are actually involved in learning Talmud are almost never the source of the sexual and physical abuse of power that goes on in the orthodox world. Actual roshei yeshivot often claim no knowledge of issues outside of the gemara and when i found myself listening to a shiur of a great Torah scholar like shmuel berenbaum i find myself humbled. I think the source of problems is rabbis who are not actively involved in the Gemara daily. Rather it is rabbis that use their positions of power like Chabad to defraud and scam people that are the real source of evil.

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  2. While my comments that follow are related to earlier postings, my thoughts are sometimes slower than the pace here. Still, they are in keeping with the values of the work and commitments here, so this is as convenient a place to post them as anywhere.

    Part I: HaRav Ya’akov Kaminetsky, zt”l, said that in Europe there were many talmidei chachamim, and he asked, “what is the difference between a talmid chacham and a gadol?” He answered, “It’s what you do with your learning, i.e. do you make it Torah, or do you make it TORAH.” These are people with prodigious dimensions, Yidden for whom Torah shaped their lives INSIDE and out.

    At the kever during Rav Kook’s, zt”l leviah, one of his fiercest opponents stood up and pointing at the entire crowd cried out, “the entirety of everything that everyone here knows combined together does not begin to reach what was inside him!” – and all the g’dolim and ‘who’s who’ were there!

    But take someone like Elisha ben Abuya – Acher - who knew it all yet who rode away from it all. Rebbe Meir walked with him to the end of Shabbos trying to glean as much as he could from him, from he ‘who knew’ so much. How could it be that Acher, Acher who had Torah knowledge that we collectively couldn’t begin to dream about, how could it be that Acher left?!

    The answer is simple, right. It never touched him; it never reached him. His head was full; his heart was empty, like so many other thinking, questioning people, who live in a reality called ‘I know’. Let us ask anyone, ‘what is God?’ and we’ll get answers, whether greater or lesser. Even so-called non-religious people have their own conceptions of ‘what God is’, as do atheists in foxholes. But now let’s ask, ‘who is God?’, and we’ll get silence, withdrawal, and denial…if the question is understood at all.

    Right now in the Torah, we’re right there where it all started, with the Avot who let HaKadosh Baruch Hu determine their lives. As the Kli Yakar says about Avraham, ‘Lech l’cha’- in order to be who you are capable of becoming you’ve got to go – go where?…to Eretz Yisrael?…no, to the Akeidah!

    Go to any place where Torah is learned and ask, “Why are we still learning the Torah of galus, the Bavli. Why haven’t we [re]turned to learning the Torah of geulah, the Yerushalmi?” And the deeper and greater question, of course, is, “Why are we so terrified of leaving galus when we’re living in Eretz Yisrael?”

    Rav Kook did. He was already a gadol before he came here, but he said, “I never learned Torah until I came to Eretz Yisrael.”

    [cont'd in Part II]
    Daniel Eliezer

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  3. Part II: There are good things that Natan is doing, just as there is good commentary about it, but what’s the direction. Is it only to point out the flaws of what’s corrupt or is the emphasis to educate and enlighten and lift up?

    There are so many wildly fantastic stories from the Tanach, Gemara, Midrashim, and from the rebbes that are usually beyond our realm of understanding in any ‘normal’ way. They are stories that extremely challenge our ability to comprehend and understand, because we mostly prefer the secure and the safe, the rational and the reasoned in our approach to Torah and life. Surprisingly, it is from the world of those who are deeply aligned with the Rambam’s learning and thinking that we are given this insight into what it means to take Torah higher, deeper, and beyond.

    “Of course, as long as the path of the man of faith cuts across the territory of the reasonable, the intellect may follow him and identify his footsteps. The very instant, however, the man of faith transcends the frontiers of the reasonable and enters into the realm of the unreasonable, the intellect is left behind and must terminate its search for understanding. The man of faith animated by his great experience is able to reach the point at which not only his logic of the mind but even his logic of the heart and of the will, everything - even his own “I” awareness - has to give in to an “absurd” commitment. The man of faith is “insanely” committed and “madly” in love with God.” [Rabbi Josef Dov Ber Soloveitchik, zt”l, “Lonely Man of Faith”, p.61]

    There is so much which ‘rationalism and reason’ prevent our ability to comprehend and understand. For all their strengths, for how necessary they are to us, and for as great a purpose as they serve us, there nevertheless becomes a time and place where ‘rationalism and reason’ outright limit us! They create a boundary, a boundary that Avraham ‘haIvri’ crossed for all mankind.

    And that is the crux of the dilemma. As much as there is and has to be genuine rational, reasoned analysis and psychology in the Torah, that’s not the sum of what the Torah is. It is a purely religious sefer: a book of prophecy – i.e. exceptionally elevated super-consciousness. When we study and learn it and then teach and give it over, we have to be conscious that we are giving over that which has a higher and deeper consciousness. It is true that “the Torah speaks in the language of men”, i.e. it’s depictions and descriptions are of the mundane. Nevertheless, it is because that which is described makes it seem that “this could happen to and is understandable to anyone” is what demands that we probe deeply into what is happening in order to decipher how and why people and events are really of Divine reality.

    And the most wonderful thing about this is that it confirms our perceptions that reality changes. ‘ד' מלך, ד' מלך, ד' ימלוך לעולם ועד’ - ד' is constant; we change. And Avraham, who for God’s sake changed from Avram, gives all this over to us. God is about challenging perceptions and changing.

    Daniel Eliezer

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  4. I listened to the whole thing again from your YouTube offering and he was not saying it was a reason for you being Post-Chareidi. He was saying you became Post Chareidi because your books were banned, not that it was your reaction to isolation on the part of rabbis.

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  5. Of *course* it's true even without the removed statement. Authority was not vested in Roshei Yeshiva until a decade or more after World War II. (See R' Rakeffet's "The Silver Era" for more.) Before then, it was the mora d'atra. The Vilna Gaon and the Chafetz Chaim had no communal authority. They didn't have yeshivot either, come to think, but R' Chaim Volozhin, the Netziv, etc. etc. had no communal authority. The Chazon Ish didn't really until right at the end. R' Chaim Ozer did. R' Yitzchak Elchanan did. R' Kook and R' Sonnefeld did (for different communities, of course.) There was a reason for that- they lived among the people. Chassidic rebbes did before the War and after, but at least they (until recently) could be said to be mora d'atra and among the people.

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  6. In your previous post you said the third reason was the reason. What are you counting as the third reason? Also you did say that Rabbinic authority led to Post Chareidism. It can be one very big way to summarize your point.

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  7. Harry Truman once said he was proud of his enemies. He meant that because he took straightforward and controversial positions on the important issues of the day, he made a lot of prominent enemies, and because he was proud of the positions he took, he was proud of the enemies those positions made for him. I think you should feel the same way - you've taken an honest and forthright position on the controversial issues surrounding Torah and science, and you should should be proud of the fact that so many people who would rather remain ignorant and force that ignorance on others (or who prostitute their opinions in order to cater to those people) consider you their enemy.

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  8. "Incidentally, several people wrote to me to tell me that even without the (parenthetical) phrase, my statement was absolutely true. "

    Of course it's true. How is it not basic seichel?? It's not even a chareidi thing, it's a universal fact of leadership and power. Objecting to it means that you're suffering from it.

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  9. The concern is irrelevant. The rav in question was determined to misrepresent your position. Had commas surrounded the comment instead of parentheses he still would've done it.

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  10. Rabbi Slifkin, the quotation thing is neglible. The real issue here is what I see quoted [I have not seen the video, so I am assuming his quote is accurate] from Rabbi Shimshon Sherer:

    "Total subservience to Daas Torah, is not a democratic right - it is Divinely ordained. We need not explain their Daas Torah positions. And certainly we do not, and should not, apologize for Daas Torah that comes out of Agudas Yisroel."

    It's important to publicly reject that view, or stated otherwise, Klal Yisrael has a responsibility to be moiche. That is NOT an authentically Jewish view, has historically never been a Jewish view, and merely to claim this makes him sound worse than the Taliban. Jews do not give "total subservience" to ANY MAN, PERIOD. [I understand he's only articulating what some of his other rabbi colleaugues think, but there's no way the Agudah grass roots, many of whom I know well, buys this nonsense. They have a holier than thou shtik, but they are not crazy.] I am personally moiche at the chillul hashem that are R. Sherer's comments, and publicly reject them.

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  11. I went back and watched Sherrer's entire speech. (Still wanted to vomit, btw.) What he was saying was far more insidious than just bashing you. He was basically saying, and this is truly the root of so many problems in Judasim today, that anything, anyone, any hashkafa that is NOT theirs are not just wrong, but are comparable to the enemies that have tried to destroy Judaism throughout the ages. He was quoting from V'hi She'amda from the Hagadah! (We won't even mention the collective egomania of the Agugah believing that it alone is the defender of Clal Yisrael.)

    But the most frightening words were, "Total subservience to Daas Torah is divinely ordained". Here he places himself in the same camp as best of the Ayatollahs and his ideology on par with fundamentalist Islam.

    Whether he technically misquoted you or not is almost irrelevant. Your article was just a lightening rod for a very frightening display of fanaticism.

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  12. Rabbi Slifkin writes: “And none of this relates to his other distortion of my words, in claiming that this is THE reason that I gave for being post-charedi, instead of the third reason.”

    Does your own Two Reasons Principle not apply? As I’ve understood your statements on the matter, this last reason, as evidenced by the ill-considered ban on your books, was precisely what drove you from the Chareidi camp.

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  13. The logic that flows from the two statements is what's important.

    Statement 1:rabbinic authority is invested in yeshivah deans who are isolated from wider society

    Statement 2:and often “handled” by various assistants,

    Conclusion: abuses of rabbinic power are inevitable

    The statements seem to be saying that the yeshivah deans are isolated, THEREFORE they are incapable of comprehending/taking care of worldly matters, so they hand off these issues to various assistants.

    You may not have intended to say this, but that is how I think most people would interpret it.

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  14. I'm not sure why you want to insist R. Sherer reported your words wrong or didn't summarize your essay more fully. I think for the point he was trying to make, it was fine. He thought it was terrible that anyone gave criticism of the gedolim and that it was published in the mainstream press. He did not disagree with you, by the way. R Sherer's point is clear.

    The 1st Amendment of the US Constitution guarantees the freedoms of religion, speech, press and complaining by limiting the powers of government. If one doesn't know this, the reference will be lost. Sherer is making a pun on the word "1st" in "1st Amendment". The 1st Amendment is only first because that's where it appeared in a list of 10 amendments added to the US Constitution. Sherer contraposes this with the "First Commandment"

    The First Amendment states: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

    However, in his use of "1st", "speech", "press", and implying the Jewish "religion" [all referenced in the 1st Amendment],and that you are redressing a grieviance [gedolim out of touch]. He's saying that the "first" obligation in the Jewish "religion" is "Anochi HaShem elokecha". Somehow, in his mind, this is a cute juxtaposition to the 1st Amendment. He may be using the Constitution as a mneumonic for the terms in it.
    The statements do not line up very well. It sounds as if he's trying to say "forget your rights and don't get out of your place in the pecking order. The Agudah view of the world is that which is certified by God. When you go to the press to redress grieviences,you are dissing the Charedi gedolim. In doing so, you are dissing God. The Charedi system is immune to criticism in this form because it is run by neveim who know the will of God. What is the press compared to that?"

    Gary Goldwater

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  15. Incidentally, several people wrote to me to tell me that even without the (parenthetical) phrase, my statement was absolutely true.

    If you think that the statement is valid without the parenthetical, then R. Sherer didn't really distort your meaning by leaving it out; he merely sharpened and highlighted the point of disagreement.

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  16. according to your opinion that when giving 2 reasons, the second is the real reason, he didn't really distort your view...

    Yeedle

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  17. Remove a word or words and it isn't a misquote?

    Try removing the word "not" from:

    "It is not permitted to drive on Shabat."

    'nuf said.

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  18. I'm re-reading Mysterious Creatures and pondering why I so enjoyed your books (and still do), while many of your blog posts are not to my liking at all. Perhaps the reason is that the books address the issues: Torah & Science etc. while the blog seems largely about your opponents. In your books you come across as extremely intelligent, curious...there's a refreshing quality to the writing...while the blog seems sarcastic, vindictive and, for lack of a better word, snarky.

    It seems that the books were 'pro' something, they were promoting something, while the ideas may have been controversial they were inspiring. They spoke about Torah, about Hashem, about encountering Him in nature, and not

    The blog seems 'anti'. It does not seem to be about Rationalist Judaism as a school of thought. It comes across as an anti-chareidi (or anti charedi establishment) polemic and does not leave me inspired at all. This is a shame.

    It can also lead people to become disillusioned with the yiddishkeit they know without giving them an alternative.

    My purpose is not to offend. I repeat, your books were very much enjoyed and I learned a lot.

    You can post this if you like but it is mainly addressed to you.

    Sincerely,

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  19. David Ohsie suggested that there wasn't really a distortion in the omission of the parenthetical. I'm not sure I agree, because Rabbi Sherer didn't know whether Rabbi Slifkin would have made the comment without the qualification. In fact, it's still not clear whether Rabbi Slifkin himself agrees with the unqualified statement.

    Either way, I commend Rabbi Slifkin for his perseverance. He may occasionally lose ground to his frustration, but I've certainly reacted more harshly to smaller pressures.

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  20. Rav Slifkin, as a great admirer and supporter of you and your ideas I must humbly suggest that perhaps it is time for you to move and drop your connections with the Haredi world. Do not refer to yourself as "post-Haredi". Neither you nor I are going to change them. All their internal contraditions and difficulties confronting the modern world will inevitably lead to people from within either dropping out en-masse, as happened in the 19th and early 20th centuries, or to change from within due to popular demand. However, frontal confrontation is not healthy for you or anyone else, and they are not going to admit you are right. Frankly, I am surprised they even mentioned you at their convention.
    I know other people who have a love-hate relation with the Haredi world, they are bitterly critical of it but they still want to be considered part of it and I frankly don't understand this attitude. I knew a grandson of a Haredi gadol who is also very angry at the haredi world yet he sent his sons to Haredi yeshivot where they are no doubt receiving indoctrination which contradicts what they are learning at home ("who are you going to listen to...your father or the 'gadol hador'"), I asked him why he send his kids to these yeshivot? He answered "That's where the strong Torah learning is". Is that really true? There isn't anywhere else?
    I don't see why you can't come out and identify as a Religious Zionist. I am aware that many Haredim confuse "Religious Zionism" with the National Religious Party or with the concept "Mizrochnik" which means someone who is not so careful about reliigous observance. Time has moved on and there are many talmidei chachamim and fine yeshivot that identify with Religious Zionism as an ideology (which you do anyway) without getting mixed up in the political aspects of it. I think you should consider it, end the direct confrontation with the Haredim but keep doing your writing and educating which in any event will continue to infiltrate the Haredi world and give backing to Haredim with open minds who are looking for real answers instead of slogans.

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  21. Thinking about it more, I would consider changing the title of this post, to read PUBLIC MACHAH (PROTEST). And then quote what this Rabbi Shimshon Sherer said, and then flatly reject it. I do believe its almost a responsibility to do so, not just a choice, as his comments are korov l'kfirah. This blog gets enought traffic so that, if anyone stumbles across Rabbi Sherer's views quoted elsewhere, he will be led to this blog and know that the views expressed by Rabbi Sherrer are his own, and do not reflect normative Judaism. You have to set the record straight li'doros.

    [Might be time, in general, to re-address the fiction known as "daas torah". I know this was addressed 20 years ago, but if rabbi sherrer is indicaative, it has grown from a foolish but harmless superstition into almost full-blown apikorsis.]

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  22. Last I heard the Jerusalem Post was declared to be traif and assur. So how did Rabbi Sherer see the article?

    :)

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  23. @DF
    "Total subservience to Daas Torah, is not a democratic right - it is Divinely ordained. We need not explain their Daas Torah positions."

    The key word here is "their." I, and probably many others here, have no problem with the idea that the Torah instructs us how to think and act outside of the 4 amos of Halacha. I just have a problem with people like Shimshy Sherrer deciding that Torah Opinion must be defined by specific people. I'd love to add other scholars who may at times express an idea as being sourced in Torah. And at times I think that decisions and opinions that come from "their" Moetzes are mistaken. Furthermore, why can't we question anyone's "Daas Torah?" We are allowed to ask questions on the Gemara. Why is DT absolved from a good kashya? And after we ask the kashya, if the answer is not acceptable, why can't we disagree? I don't know of any derech hapsak that maintains that we can't argue with a psak of a contemporary or near contemporary posek. Why is DT above thinking?

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  24. @Adam Zur
    "One who says 'I don't know' is negligent. Rabbis, whose names are used, have no excuse. If we can't use the Gemara's opinion of 'not knowing,' then what is Daas Torah?

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  25. Hershel makes an excellent, general, and poignant remark and no one has anything to say in reference to it?! He sums up your entire blog and yet no one seems to even notice such an important comment. Hershel, you are RIGHT on the mark!

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  26. I find it amazing that the false accusations lobbed at Rabbi Sherer has gone completely unanswered by the majority of posters on this site.
    The blog host himself admitted that Rabbi Sherer's intentions were honest and forthright,after all R. sklifken had accused him of intentionally misquoting the original piece. NOT TRUE
    Are you all so mesmerized by your left leaning anti- haraidi leanings that it is impossible to see whats really going here? The reason for Rabbi Slifkin's original post has been totally refuted and undermined.Yet many of you are all programmed to despise and destroy anything you deem an affront to your strongly held positions. We can debate the position of Rabbi sherers vs. Rabbi slifkins position's but first things first. Admit that the premise for the first post was made in error by Rabbi Slifkin with an unfair and wholly inapropriate persoanl attck on Rabbi sherer. If you cant do that, there is no reason to have an honest debate.

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  27. "The blog host himself admitted that Rabbi Sherer's intentions were honest and forthright,"

    No I did not!

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  28. Rabbi By all accounts this is a retraction, however weak it might be.

    "However, I subsequently discovered that the version of my essay which appeared in The Jerusalem Post had been edited such that this phrase had been placed in parentheses. I still personally feel that Rabbi Sherer should have quoted it, as do others. But I can understand that still others feel that he was thereby entitled to omit it. And so I would like to retract my accusation that he deliberately set out to falsify my words. My words were falsely reported, but he is not necessarily culpable."

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  29. A number of points:
    1) As a previous commentator pointed out, the yeshivish crowd that is siding with Rabbi Sherer all seem to have secular names. C'mon guys! You can have Jewish names and still comment anonymously on the blog. Bob and Michael - your names are not giving you credence.

    2) The fact that Rabbi Slifkin thinks that having parenthesis gives one the right to ignore what is written in them is his opinion. As I don't believe in Daas Torah, I can disagree with Rabbi Slifkin - and I strongly feel that when reading a quote one should read all of it - parenthesis and all. Rabbi Sherer sould have quoted the phrase as written (he could have stated that there were parenthesis around those words) - to leave out part of it is simply unfair. It is a method of setting up a straw man to attack.

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  30. Rabbi Slifkin,
    Why is it okay to leave an important parenthetical qualification out of a quote? And how could Rabbi Sherer claim not to know which magazine you were reffering to when you clearly wrote Mishpacha Magazine?

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  31. As a (once) proud owner of the now infamous "Slifkin books" . I was quite taken aback of your origanl demand that Rabbi Sherer pay for his crimes and issue an apology and retraction for his remarks at this years Agudah convention . There is no secret of your feelings towards the Gedolah Torah ,which is quite evident from the tone of numerous postings and articles that you have written. You initially ( falsely ) accused him of intentionally misquoting you and than when it is pointed out that Rabbi Sherer was correct in the way he quoted you from your article in the JPost you offer a lame excuse that the JPost added parenthesis to your comments , unbeknown to you. I myself have written numerous articles over the last few years in local papers ,mostly in regard to local politics ,never would anything ever get printed without me receiving a final draft of exactly how the paper will print my article after all "the written word is more powerful than a sword " . If I would dare take a stance against the view of our Gedolim or Rabbanim, or anything that might have at all a chance of being misunderstood as opposing Daas Torah I would make sure to read the final draft of exactly how it will be printed . It is therefore highly unlikely that your excuse is believable, to any of your followers , and in fact it should be you that should issue a strong apology to Rabbi Sherer and the Agudah ,as you originally demanded. I have listened and re listened to his powerful message and have done some "soul searching" and must say that I was guilty of exactly what Rabbi Sherer was referring to I have questioned Daas Torah over the last few years on a variety of different topics and instilled in my children a cynical view of the Gedoilim and Rabbonim in general ,which is something that I ,unfortunately ,have picked up by reading so many posting and blogs over the last few years . It is time that we all ,myself included ,not take for granted our Gedolim and realize that we are not entitled to an opinion ,if not for our sake than for the sake of our children. Once again I ask that you issue a strong and warranted apology to Rabbi Sherer and the Agudah

    Signed ,

    A post Slifkin fan

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  32. YEA,

    I'd like to think that this was all a big mistake. I think Sherer was manipulated by the Askanim who gave him select quotes.

    Otherwise you are forced to conclude:
    1. Sherer reads the JPost (online!)
    2. Sherer intentionally misquoted RNS

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  33. The paranthetic quote is no longer the issue, the issue is Rabbi Shimshon Sherer's outrageous comments. The fact that one troll [under different names] keeps harping on the Jeruasalem Post instead of the real issue shows how far some people will go to avoid looking a problem in the eye.

    In any event, as I already posted, I think you can't just let this discussion linger in the comments. Here you have a chance to make a full-throated macha of a genuine chillul hashem. To claim Jews should give "total subservience" to a yilud isha is a perversion of the Torah and borders on heresy. That requires a post on its own, not merely a discussion in the comments.

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  34. james are you serious?
    Is this a joke? What difference does it make if Rabbi sherer reads the jpost online or not? The facts speak for themselves. There is an intentional character assassination being done here by you and your friends and it is now clear that this site is perpetuating a fraud.
    The jpost article clearly and unequivocally had parentheses. R' Sherer did not need to acknowledge those words to make his point.
    What is your issue? The fact is, r' Slifken was out of bounds and wrong in his first attack and Rabbi sherer clearly did not do what he was accused of. R' Slifken retracted yet you are still obfuscating plain and simple.
    What gives?

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  35. The first 27 minutes of this shiur is relevant to the discussion:

    http://www.yutorah.org/lectures/lecture.cfm/766006/Rabbi_Mordechai_I_Willig/Evolution_&_Change_in_Halacha:_Intro_(Part_2)_and_Measurements

    Starting about 20 minutes into the shiur, Rabbi Willig questions the idea that a small number of rabbis, not matter how distinguished, can bind the entire Jewish world.

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  36. The issue of the comment about askanim that was presented in the JPost as a parenthetic remark is largely irrelevant. Either R' Natan didn't note it in the 'galley proof' sent for his review, or the JPost editor never sent it. It is, rather, to R' Natan's credit that he is perfectly willing to change his position when new facts come to light. In this case, there is little doubt that R' Sherer would still have attacked the 'post-hareidi' article even without the parenthesis.

    As others have noted, the more important aspect of that Agudah keynote address was the position that uncritical acceptance of the 'das torah' of the Agudah figures is divinely mandated. Any one should realize how offensive such a position must be to an educated, thinking person. It's Agudah, more than any non-Hassidic group, that has invoked such a novel principal. The utility of this blog is precisely to counter such an ideology. As such, it is a reaction to a revisionist zeitgeist that has taken hold of the yeshivish world. Those who reject it can cite ample examples of error made by great talmud scholars in the distant and more recent past - much less, the contemporary figures in the Hareidi world. Such counter arguments and the evidence presented is an important feature of the internet and R' Natan's efforts. Little wonder, then, as to the vehemence of the attacks leveled on both by Hareidi figures.

    No less than the future of Orthodox Judaism is at stake. Will it be a religion of unthinking followers, or of thoughful people? Will we be a model for other peoples, or a subject of scorn?

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  37. "Natan Slifkin said...

    "The blog host himself admitted that Rabbi Sherer's intentions were honest and forthright,"

    No I did not!"

    Michael said...

    Rabbi By all accounts this is a retraction, however weak it might be.

    "However, I subsequently discovered that the version of my essay which appeared in The Jerusalem Post had been edited such that this phrase had been placed in parentheses. I still personally feel that Rabbi Sherer should have quoted it, as do others. But I can understand that still others feel that he was thereby entitled to omit it. And so I would like to retract my accusation that he deliberately set out to falsify my words. My words were falsely reported, but he is not necessarily culpable."

    You can't say "And so I would like to retract my accusation that he deliberately set out to falsify my words." and then say you did not admit "Rabbi Sherer's intentions were honest and forthright" in the context of what Michael wrote.

    He you were saying was not trying to falsify so it was an accurate statement that Michael said.

    Yes when you quote you are expected to quote word for word. Whatever happened though the fact is he quoted exactly what you meant Rabbi Slifkin. The deans are isolated and so can perpetrate abuses. Your sentence surely did not mean "at least when they have handlers the deans who are isolated are susceptible and so can perpetrate abuses" or "at least when they often have handlers the deans who are isolated and have handlers in actuality at least are suspetable and so can perpretrate abuses."

    You meant exactly what I read you as meaning before your post on Rabbi Sherer. When deans are isolated they are susceptible to making abuses of power and this is also happening because of handlers with them who often are handling them. Ok so he could have quoted you exactly. I agree. But you know this happens even on the news when you see text and the newscaster will inaccurately quote although the sense is perfect. But even if he committed according to all shitas a wrong act, saying it was a crime makes you sound shrill. Which is I suppose not what you wanted although the battle cry seems exactly what you wanted. Saying it was a crime seemed way out of proportion. In any event shkoiach. You are back on the Chareidi radar. War has been declared. End result they'll still stand so I hope you'll be happy with less than surrender. It will be more terrorism than traditional warfare on your part. You have a loyal army and they do too. I predict at least a stalemate for a long while (period vague.)

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  38. Dear "cj said",

    It is absolutely NOT true that "...never would anything ever get printed without me receiving a final draft of exactly how the paper will print my article...". It might be true in the secular world but definitely not in the Jewish world. In the past, my wife wrote for the Baltimore Jewish Times, a secular Jewish weekly. They did NOT offer her the opportunity to edit what she wrote (and one of her articles was the feature article for the week).

    JWB

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  39. Rabbi Slifkin,
    Without addressing the content of your article or of Rabbi Sherer’s speech, Can I ask why it is that your position in demanding an apology from R'Sherer for incorrectly quoting you was one of absolute certainty "Rabbi Sherer: You should do the right thing and apologize for falsifying my words.”, while you reaction to finding out that you in fact incorrectly accused R'Sherer was a tepid statement of "My words were falsely reported, but he is not necessarily culpable.”
    Is R’Sherer not entitled to the same apology you so indignantly demanded of him?
    Rabbi Slifkin, YOU should do the right thing.

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  40. Cj

    being an adult who thinks for oneself can be scary. it is much easier to regress to childhood and have gedolim tell one what to think.

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  41. The words “Divinely ordained” sound very Christian to me. As a matter of fact, IIRC Catholicism considers the Pope the unquestioned “Divinely ordained” leader whose word is G-d’s and who cannot ever be questioned. IIRC the idea of Divine ordination also applied to Christian kings over the centuries (until the Protestants had enough of it and tried to repeal it in their version of Christianity).

    Forget Islam – Divine ordination over the past 1,500 years is a strong part of Christian and Catholic theology!

    When was the last time someone was “Divinely ordained” as a Jewish leader? I believe it was over 2,000 years ago, if not more. But now the Agudah is saying that their favorite rabbis are “Divinely ordained”? (Or they are saying that the “Daas Torah” - the pronouncements and statements - of their favorite rabbis are “Divinely ordained”, which is the same thing.)

    How ironic, that of all organizations, the Agudah has been the most vocal over the past 50 years about the changes the Conservative and Reform movements have made to traditional Judaism. And now, after over 2,000 years without Jewish Divine Ordination, the Agudath Israel of America has reinstituted Jewish Devine Ordination, claiming that its selected rabbis (otherwise known as “The Gedolim”) have the power of Divine Ordination! (Gosh, it almost sounds like Mashiach is here!) Talk about changing traditional Judaism.

    Anyway, doesn’t “Total subservience” (to quote Rabbi Sherer) to a human being come under the category of Avodah Zarah? It is my understanding that in Judaism “Total subservience” is reserved for Hashem, and not idols, men, or men made into idols. And if we are to be “totally subservient” to the gedolim, how then can we be “totally subservient” to Hashem, or even somewhat subservient to Hashem, if our subservience is dedicated to the gedolim in its totality?

    Oh, silly me, I forgot - the gedolim said so - that’s how!

    ReplyDelete
  42. Sorry Nosson. You started the fight in this round and have no right to be upset that Rabbi Scherer defended the charedi position against your attack. They are allowed to defend themselves. You wrote in public forum, they can defend at their convention.

    The whole parenthesis thing is so not the issue.

    ReplyDelete
  43. “.. but R' Chaim Volozhin, the Netziv, etc. etc. had no communal authority. The Chazon Ish didn't really until right at the end..”

    No. R. Chaim Voloshiner was also Rav of Voloshin.

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  44. Yasher Koach on the retraction. It takes a big man to admit to his mistakes, and I applaud you for doing so.

    Two minor quibbles (well, the second may be less minor):

    I think the aggressive tone in the third paragraph is uncalled for. In general a retraction should take the form of I apoligize for my mistake, and it's best to avoid the temptation to add "but this is why my opponent is a lying dirtbag anyhow" (this being an obvious exaggeration of your response). Additionally, I'm not sure he claims that this was your only point, only that it was part of you wrote.

    Secondly, the final sentence "Incidentally, several people wrote to me to tell me that even without the (parenthetical) phrase, my statement was absolutely true," requires a fair amount of clarification. The statement may indeed be true (I imagine it is), but I think it's difficult for you to take such a position in light of yesterdays piece:

    "When I heard that, I was somewhat taken aback myself. Had I really written such a thing?"

    You very much gave the impression that you considered such a position extreme, and that this was a large part of why Rabbi Sherer's comments were so offensive. Now you are always free to change your mind, but in this case you should point out the change and explain your the changing rationale that led you to your new position.

    ReplyDelete
  45. CJ,

    Sherer DID misquote RNS! He left out the parenthetical.

    ReplyDelete
  46. "Cj

    being an adult who thinks for oneself can be scary. it is much easier to regress to childhood and have gedolim tell one what to think."

    This is a common attack against charedi people while trying to pretend it is sympathetic.

    Studies have shown this is not true, and people like to do what they want, not what they are told to do.

    Too many choices can be paralyzing, but it is in no way scary. Also, every branch of Judaism will tell people what to do.

    Everyone does what their neighbor does in every society. (Except for the people who like to join the society of not doing what the people around you are doing.)

    ReplyDelete
  47. Kollel Nick
    wrote: Adam Zur
    "One who says 'I don't know' is negligent. Rabbis, whose names are used, have no excuse. If we can't use the Gemara's opinion of 'not knowing,' then what is Daas Torah?
    first of all i want to clarify. the real roshei yeshivot that i knew seem to have been programed to answer I don't know on all issues outside their areas of expertise. they never claimed daat Torah. i knew reb shmuel berenbaum very well and not just in his official capacity as rosh yeshiva but even at his him amomg his close family had a very limited amount to say about any topics not directly related to Gemara or running the yeshiva. this applies to all the roshei yeshivot at the Mir. In Israel i discovered many so called roshei yeshivot can't learn Gemara but came to their positions by going to the Ministry of Religion with three names to get for a yeshiva and they are the ones with so called daat torah but could never understand a simple tosphot if it hit them in the face.

    ReplyDelete
  48. Reb Natan,

    I am a bit dismayed about this post. The fact that you focused on your personal pique and missed an opportunity to denounce the substance of that speech is just too bad and seems a bit self-serving.

    I (against my better judgment) listened to thae speech. And as DF and Y.Aharon stated the claims he made about his organization’s importance were outrageous, But what was more disgusting were his vile words about fellow Jews. The hatred spewed should cause any right-minded individual to disavow this organization and fore swear ever donating any monies to this gang of anti-semites.

    ReplyDelete
  49. "MO said...

    Cj

    being an adult who thinks for oneself can be scary. it is much easier to regress to childhood and have gedolim tell one what to think."

    As opposed to general society where one has political correctness to tell one what to think because it can be so scary thinking for yourself. The truth is it's not a matter of being scared. Chareidim make decisions all the time even without Gedolim. If their businesses fail or their marriages fail they made some scary decisions without the help of Gedolim.

    ReplyDelete
  50. "DF said...

    The paranthetic quote is no longer the issue, the issue is Rabbi Shimshon Sherer's outrageous comments. The fact that one troll [under different names] keeps harping on the Jeruasalem Post instead of the real issue shows how far some people will go to avoid looking a problem in the eye."

    This is not Wikipedia where we shut up other contributors by saying we can expertly tell if one is using various names and if we don't like it call it trolling as opposed to calling it making varied comments under various names. And the crime? Dishonesty for not sticking to one fake name?

    ReplyDelete
  51. I have followed my better judgement and not listened to this speech, and I don't plan to. It seems to me that if everyone just stops paying attention to these people, maybe they will just go away. Or they won't go away, but they will eventually seem a lot less important than they do now. I mean, what if they declared and culture war and nobody came? What if they held a book burning, and everyone went out and bought the books instead? Oh, wait, that's sort of what already happened!

    As for denouncing the substance of the speech, I think Rabbi Maryles does his usual nice, balanced job of that on his blog, http://haemtza.blogspot.com/.

    ReplyDelete
  52. Did you see your honorable mention in the recent Ami Magazine?

    ReplyDelete
  53. Boy, Rabbi, these two posts have certainly touched a nerve!

    Question for you and your readers: does Judaism / do Jews need "gedolei Torah" and/or "Daat Torah"? What do those terms really accomplish or preserve in Judaism that, were they not present, would disappear? How does Judaism/Jewry benefit from these concepts, and how much of a "nafka mineh" do they have? How significant is their influence on the way Jews think and behave in the real world?

    In other words - since I ask the same about so many other hierarchies of power and influence - what's the big deal?

    Sincerely,
    Michael A. Singer (one of those folks with the seemingly gentile name "Michael" [which is actually Jewish!])

    ReplyDelete
  54. Did you see your honorable mention in the recent Ami Magazine?

    No - what does it say?

    ReplyDelete
  55. YA wrote:

    "As opposed to general society where one has political correctness to tell one what to think because it can be so scary thinking for yourself. The truth is it's not a matter of being scared. Chareidim make decisions all the time even without Gedolim.

    The term "Charedi" itself implies fear. To be sure, it is supposed to be fear of God, but as we know too often it is fear about what your neighbour will think or what the Rabbi will say.

    Please don't lecture us about the ills of political correctness in secular society. Individuals in the charedi world are bound by their own "political correctness," which is much more harsh and severe than it is in the secular world.

    Just ask RNS.

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  56. 'As a matter of fact, IIRC Catholicism considers the Pope the unquestioned “Divinely ordained” leader whose word is G-d’s and who cannot ever be questioned.'

    This isn't completely true. The Pope is only infallible only in matters of faith and morals and even then only when he specifically states that his specific statement is infallible. This doctrine was only proclaimed as binding in 1870 and to date there are only two such infallible statements.

    The church itself admits that there have been many popes who have committed grave sins and SHOULD have been questioned!

    ReplyDelete
  57. I will scan it and email you a copy..what is your email address?

    It was written by the editor - R' Yitzchak Frankfurter on the subject of child abuse.

    I believe it was the past week's issue. He was talking about his appearance on the Zev Brenner show.

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  58. YA: "Chareidim make decisions all the time even without Gedolim. If their businesses fail or their marriages fail they made some scary decisions without the help of Gedolim."

    As Rabbi Shimshon Sherer would say: Rachmana Litzlan!

    ReplyDelete
  59. Nosson, it's one thing not to be charedi anymore, fine. But stop looking over your shoulder always and trying to 'get the charedim back.'

    Move on. I know you were put through terrible nisyonos but it's been a few years already.

    Do your thing without writing anti-charedi stuff as you did in jpost.

    It'll make you a happier person if you let the resentment go.

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  60. "MO said...

    YA wrote:

    "As opposed to general society where one has political correctness to tell one what to think because it can be so scary thinking for yourself. The truth is it's not a matter of being scared. Chareidim make decisions all the time even without Gedolim.

    The term "Charedi" itself implies fear. To be sure, it is supposed to be fear of God, but as we know too often it is fear about what your neighbour will think or what the Rabbi will say.

    Please don't lecture us about the ills of political correctness in secular society. Individuals in the charedi world are bound by their own "political correctness," which is much more harsh and severe than it is in the secular world."

    Baloney. That's not the real world your describing. You are the one lecturing.

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  61. "Yeedle said...

    YA: "Chareidim make decisions all the time even without Gedolim. If their businesses fail or their marriages fail they made some scary decisions without the help of Gedolim."

    As Rabbi Shimshon Sherer would say: Rachmana Litzlan!"

    Oh so I suppose before they decide whether to eat pizza or spaghetti they ask the Rav. He's a real, person and putting words in his mouth isn't going to make your version true.

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  62. To 'Peace':

    Peace, it is one thing to be Charedi, fine. But stop looking over your shoulder at other people, always trying to “get the Post-Charedim” (or telling others how to live their lives).

    I know it poses terrible nisyonos to Charedim that they are losing from their ranks some exceptionally bright and talented people who have become Post-Charedi. But it’s been going on for a few years already. Move on.

    Do your thing without writing anti-Post-Charedi stuff as you do on this blog (and I suspect others).

    It’ll make you a happier person if you let the jealousy go.

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  63. Rabbi Slifkin -
    Given all the issues you raise, capped by the Agudah travesty, do you see a real place for Daas Torah in rationalist Judaism?

    ReplyDelete
  64. Gemorah Berachos 28a - Rabban Gamliel made mean comment about R Joshua being charcoal-burner.

    R Joshua replied: ALAS FOR THE GENERATION OF WHICH YOU ARE THE LEADER, SEEING THAT YOU KNOW NOTHING OF THE TROUBLESOF THE SCHOLARS, THEIR STRUGGLES TO SUPPORT AND SUSTAIN THEMSELVES.

    Explicit gemora about a Gadol being unaware of real life and making inappropriate statements. Rav Sherer should learn more gemorah.

    ReplyDelete
  65. Now you are in this week'a Mishpacha!
    You are really turning into a celebrity!

    ReplyDelete
  66. "Michapeset said...

    To 'Peace':

    Peace, it is one thing to be Charedi, fine. But stop looking over your shoulder at other people, always trying to “get the Post-Charedim” (or telling others how to live their lives)."

    Oh come on he wasn't trying to do that in the comments he gave and you are imitating. He was making points. If you feel the best you can do is make personal attacks and make fun and imitating in reverse you have nothing to contribute to the conversation. You obviously feel insecure in your beliefs.


    "I know it poses terrible nisyonos to Charedim that they are losing from their ranks some exceptionally bright and talented people who have become Post-Charedi. But it’s been going on for a few years already. Move on."

    That's not who they are losing on average?

    "Do your thing without writing anti-Post-Charedi stuff as you do on this blog (and I suspect others)."

    Well I see that a lot with people like you. Posting on blogs and site after site with basically nothing but ad hominems and wild claims based on little or no data exactly like you.

    "It’ll make you a happier person if you let the jealousy go."

    My advice to you is let the fear of another opinion go and use real arguments rather than nonsense charges out of thin air.

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  67. YA wrote:

    "Baloney. That's not the real world your describing."

    If you are Yitzhok Adlerstein, I would remind you of what you yourself wrote about Rabbi Wein a few days ago.

    "One problem he does not mention is the inability of people to speak their minds – perhaps because he is one of the very few with both the courage and the standing to be able to. The rest of us can live vicariously through him."

    Is this not describing the problem of extreme political correctness in the Charedi world?

    ReplyDelete
  68. YA is most definitely NOT R. Yitzchak Adlerstein!

    ReplyDelete
  69. "YA wrote:

    "Baloney. That's not the real world your describing."

    If you are Yitzhok Adlerstein, I would remind you of what you yourself wrote about Rabbi Wein a few days ago.

    "One problem he does not mention is the inability of people to speak their minds – perhaps because he is one of the very few with both the courage and the standing to be able to. The rest of us can live vicariously through him."


    Is this not describing the problem of extreme political correctness in the Charedi world?"

    Yes. I wasn't disputing that.

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  70. "Natan Slifkin said...

    YA is most definitely NOT R. Yitzchak Adlerstein!"

    I've talked to him and myself have have disapproved of revisionism in the Chareidi community although it is a common social ill nowadays in both the Jewish and NonJewish World,I've looked askance at uniformitarianism and superficiality in religion and I see it in all camps. So it is not that I am most definitely not him. I find myself agreeing with him whenever I have examined what he's said at least. Why an ad hominem?

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  71. YA: "Oh so I suppose before they decide whether to eat pizza or spaghetti they ask the Rav."

    Oh so now business failure and marriage failure are pizza and spaghetti. Nice spin.

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  72. YA - I am guessing you are not a native English speaker. You seem to miss the subtle humor, time and again. Either that or you just miss the point.

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  73. Note to all:

    As stated in the post about the comments policy, if a comment is written in poor English, then its chances of being published are greatly reduced.

    Furthermore, I don't like the way that some people try to flood the blog with many, many comments. In such cases, I will not be posting most of the comments.

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  74. Nosson, I thought of a good role model for you. Rabbi Berel Wein.

    He is not at all charedi in his views and what he writes but he doesn't go around attacking charedim either. He just does his own thing and basically goes unnoticed by the charedim in terms of controversy. By doing so, he has even managed to be sort of accepted in the charedi world such that he has been asked to speak at both Agudah, Torah U'Mesorah and O-U conventions. Of course, you will never be asked to speak at an Agudah convention given the history, but you will at least find peace in not being hounded or bothered by charedim either.

    Just do your own thing without worrying about what charedim are doing. Rabbi Berel Wein has done that for years.

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  75. "Yeedle said...

    YA: "Oh so I suppose before they decide whether to eat pizza or spaghetti they ask the Rav."

    Oh so now business failure and marriage failure are pizza and spaghetti. Nice spin."

    You didn't accept serious examples of them doing things on their own so I gave other examples from daily life. You're the one giving a spin.

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  76. When omitting matter in parens, at least you should put ... in the parens.

    "When rabbinic authority is invested in yeshivah deans who are isolated from wider society, (...), abuses of rabbinic power are inevitable."

    ReplyDelete

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